Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Beginning

It came on suddenly. Nothing could have prepared us for what was about to take place in our son's body. There wasn't anything we could have done to prevent it. As much as we love him and do our best to protect him from the evils of this world, this attack came through the back door.
The word I have hated my entire life, diabetes, hit home with it's attack on my seven-year-old son.
It began with frequent trips to the bathroom and a constant thirst. This is a boy who we had to remind to drink his required intake of water. A child who rarely had to run to the restroom. Suddenly, he is saying, "I'm thirsty" on a continual basis.
I'm no stranger to diabetes. I grew up with a grandmother who had the disease and had spent time in the hospital. Then my father (not grandma's boy, but on the other side of the family altogether) ended up sick and in the hospital where he was diagnosed with diabetes. Again in high school, my best-friend had what they once called 'Juvenile diabetes'.
In October of 2007 I was also diagnosed with the disease.
As if this wasn't enough it made another appearance in my life.
Last week, Easter Sunday, I noticed my son's incessant thirst was profound. He drank from the drinking fountain until I had to intervene and tell him there was a line waiting to get a drink. I asked him if he had to go to the bathroom before we left church and he said he didn't have to go. Five minutes down the road he said he had to go and couldn't hold it.
When we got home, I used my blood testing kit to check his sugar. I almost hit the floor when I saw the number. 519.
No. No. This can't be. Not my little boy. Hadn't he just turned seven only a month ago? He's too young, yet in the back of my mind I knew my little guy's life was about to change as was the entire family's.
I put a call in to his pediatrician and the nurse practitioner quickly returned my phone call. First, she asked if my test strips were old. Uh, no. I have to purchase them every month. Hmm. Well what has he eaten? I told her he had waffles for breakfast. Oh, that must be it, she says. All that sugar in the maple syrup. Why, I don't even allow it in my house.
Okay, so now I feel the guilt of letting my children have maple syrup. How could I be such a horrible mom and bring that poison into my home.
I question the high blood sugar number of 519. Shouldn't a non-diabetic be able to process that waffle and maple syrup? It had been over 3 hours since he'd eaten.
Oh, that's normal, she tells me. It can be that high in a non-diabetic after eating that high carb maple syrup.
Funny. My husband can eat two cinnamon rolls and be 114 an hour later. This doesn't seem right.
She suggests I check his fasting blood sugar in the morning.
I did.
It was 397.
Not good. Even my little Sawyer looked at the number on the display and said, "That's not good."
The next day I called his pediatrician and got him in to see the doctor.
He wasn't concerned. He told me it was probably a virus that kids get this time of year.
He said it's very rare to see it in kids this age. Not unheard of but rare.
Okay. Just do the blood work I say.
The next morning my little boy has to give up three vials of his blood. He was so brave and I was proud of how well he handled the needle in his arm. That's scary for some adults.
The pediatrician called back that afternoon and said that my son's A1C was elevated to 8.3. A normal A1C is under 5. They were sending the information to Children's Hospital and they would probably get back to me in a couple of days.
Seemed a little long to wait.
I was right.
The pediatricians office called back shortly after speaking with me and told me the pediatrician endocrinologist at Children's Hospital wanted us to get Sawyer there that night.
Twenty minutes to make arrangements, pack, notify our children and other obligations and head out the door.
That was the beginning of our journey to discovering that Sawyer had type one diabetes.
There is a lot to catch up on and I'll try to do that over the next couple of days. It's a lot to absorb, I know. We are still adjusting.
We are grateful there are treatments. Before insulin was discovered people had no hope of a long life. They died within 3 to 4 years after getting the disease. Thanks to the Canadian scientists Sir Frederick G. Banting and Charles H. Best who discovered insulin in 1921, diabetes is no longer a death sentence. A person with diabetes can live a long and productive life.


  1. Leann, you are an inspiration. Blessings to you and your family and especially your little brave one. You're going to help many sharing your journey.

  2. Thank you Kathleen. I hope our story will help others who are searching for answers.

  3. I still remember this like it was yesterday. I'm so glad you noticed the symptoms and got the blood work done. This is such an inspirational story :)

  4. I'm grateful we caught it in time. Not everyone is so lucky.


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